Actaea pachypoda Ell.

doll's-eyes, white baneberry

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

White baneberry, also called doll's eyes, makes a beautiful addition to the native plant garden, with attractive foliage and long-lasting cluster of white fruits. The fruits are toxic to humans. The Blackfoot used a decoction of the roots as a remedy for colds and coughs. There is a red-fruited form (formerly called Actaea pachypoda forma rubrocarpa) that is generally rare but may be frequent in some locations.

Habitat

Forests

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
NA
Leaf type
the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
  • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
  • there are six petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
Stamen number
13 or more
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Fruit length
6.5–9 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    NA
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower number
    At least 25
    Flower petal color
    NA
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    NA
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
    Hairs on inflorescence
    the axis of the inflorescence has hairs entirely without glands
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Hypanthium length
    0 mm
    Inflorescence length
    20–170 mm
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Length of flower stalk
    10–30 mm
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    1
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    • there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    • there are six petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    0
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    white
    Petal appearance
    NA
    Petal base
    the petal narrows abruptly at the base
    Petal folds or pleats
    • NA
    • the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    2–4.5 mm
    Petal nectaries
    the petals do not have nectaries
    Petal number
    4–10
    Petal shape
    • the petal outline is obovate (roughly egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the petal outline is spatulate (spoon-shaped; narrow near the base, then suddenly widening to a rounded tip)
    Petal tip shape
    • the petal tip is retuse (with a blunt or rounded apex and a notch at the center)
    • the petal tip is truncate (ends abruptly in a more or less straight line as though cut off)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    NA
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    • NA
    • green to brown
    • white
    Sepal length
    2–4.5 mm
    Sepal number
    3–5
    Sepal relative length
    NA
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is roughly circular, as wide as long
    Sepal uniformity
    all the sepals are about the same size
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Spur number
    NA
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    Stamen number
    13 or more
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not attached to one another
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Style length
    0 mm
    Style relative length
    NA
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    • red
    • white
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Carpel beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    Up to 1 mm
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is round in cross-section
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    6.5–9 mm
    Fruit length relative to sepals
    NA
    Fruit shape
    • the fruit is ellipsoid (widest in the middle and tapering to each end)
    • the fruit is spherical
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
    Hair type on fruit
    NA
    Hairs on fruit
    the fruits are not hairy
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    the ripe berries are mostly one color without spots or streaks
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has axile placentation, in which the ovules are attached where the septa of a compound ovary are united, usually on the central axis, or to the septa themselves
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed length
    3.4–4.5 mm
    Seed relative length
    the seed is longer than it is wide
    Seed surface
    the seed has a surface characteristic other than those listed
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a caudex (the root mass is firm and hardened at the top)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracteoles
    the plant has bracteoles between the primary bracts and the flowers
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Floral bract texture
    the floral bracts are green, with a leaf-like texture
    Floral bracts
    the flower has one or more bracts associated with it
    Hairs on leaf stalk
    the petiole has no hairs on it
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    • the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    yes
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    • the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    • the base of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    Up to 120 mm
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the major veins of the leaf blade branch, but do not rejoin
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf blade width
    Up to 120 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is dull or slightly shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base is narrow where it attaches to the stem
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    • the leaf blade margin has rounded teeth
    • the leaf has lobes that radiate from the base, somewhat like a hand
    Leaf tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf type
    the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
    Leaf types
    NA
    Leaf variation
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaflet petiolules
    the leaflets of the compound leaf have petiolules
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    the pinnately compound leaves have a terminal leaflet (and usually have an odd number of leaflets per axis)
    Specific leaf type
    • the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis
    • the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis, and each lobe itself has rows of lobes on each side of the lobe's central axis
    • the leaf has lobes that themselves have lobes, and these secondary lobes also have lobes; there may be more than three levels of lobes
    Stipule edges
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf stalk
    NA
    Stipule length
    0 mm
    Stipule shape
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    forests
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Direction of stem hairs
    NA
    Flowering stem width
    10 mm
    Hair between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Length of hairs between stem nodes
    0 mm
    Plant height
    40–80 cm
    Stem bloom
    the stem has a powdery or waxy film on it that can be rubbed away
    Stem hair distribution
    NA
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright or angled outwards
    Stem roughness between nodes
    the stem does not feel rough
    Stem succulence
    the stems are not succulent
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Actaea rubra:
berry usually red (white forms are common in some areas), on a slender stalk 0.3-0.7 mm in diameter, and stigma narrower than ovary (vs. A. pachypoda, with the berry usually white (red forms are common in some areas), on a thick stalk 1-2.5 mm in diameter, and stigma wider than ovary).

Synonyms

  • Actaea alba, of authors not (L.) P. Mill.

Family

Ranunculaceae

Genus

Actaea

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Actaea pachypoda Ell. N

white baneberry. Actaea alba, auct. non (L.) P. Mill. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Forests, usually 
mesic, deciduous types. Red-fruited plants (forma rubrocarpa), though generally rare, can be locally frequent.

1×3. Actaea pachypoda × Actaea rubra Actaea ×‌ludovici Boivin is a very rare baneberry hybrid known from MA, VT; also reported from RI by George (1997), but specimens are unknown. The hybrids are variable and show different combinations of character states (e.g., white berries on plants that appear close to A. rubra but also show more prominent stigmas and less pubescence on the abaxial leaf blades, red or pink berries on plants that appear close to A. pachypoda but also show more pubescence on the abaxial leaf surface). These plants frequently show some sterile fruits.